North Korea may conduct Missile Test

April 10th, 2013
              2013-04-10 Vatican Radio

“I think the psychology of North Korea is one of the most misunderstood things in the world today,” said Lord David Alton, an independent member of the UK’s House of Lords and Chairman of the All Party Group on North Korea. He spoke with Emer McCarthy about the mind-set of North Korea.

Lord Alton pointed especially to three historical experiences that influenced North Korea’s perspective: the experience of the occupation of Korea by Japan; the Korean War and the massive loss of life that resulted; and the imposition of a particular brand of Stalinist communism and subsequent isolation that followed the war. “I think those three things help to explain the mind-set of North Korea.”

He said, though, “it is possible to have dialogue and it is possible to have discussion [with North Korea]. And there are people in the country who want to see change.” Lord Alton said that some of those who recognise the need for change fear the consequences of reform for themselves and for their families. “There is fear of change but there is also an understanding that there is a need for change and the conundrum for them is how to get from here to there.”

He said he thinks North Korea has a choice: “North Korea has one of two options. It can either go the reform path with all the risks that that entails . . . Or they can carry on in the bellicose, belligerent way that they are doing, even alienating their traditional ally China.”

“I think North Korea is at a cross roads,” he said, “and it can go in one of those two directions. And if it goes in the second direction there will be a terrible loss of life.” Lord Alton said, “The world needs to get on track and see if we can’t restore that sense, at least of dialogue, and learn how to build some bridges and help North Korea maybe to take the route I described . . . out of isolation, out of this dangerous predicament and into the world.”